Andrew Disqus files: Journalism in times of crisis

Ghana has been confronted with an unprecedented crisis. The giving and intake of information has not only become important, but also crucial. We live in a flood of information, yet we have become too weak in minds to analyze even our own miseries. The conditions which propel us to divert ourselves from realities are what we have unconsciously compromised with journalism.

Anger and chaos have engulfed Accra. The trenches of her socio-cultural spree are downpouring like dam. Politics has become her nemesis. Her government has been trapped in corruption. Her people dance in the air, yet cannot breathe. The rhythms of her survival play like melodies of anguish. Hunger and poverty, at first, blew like whirlwinds, now it gasps like firestorm. Destinies are determined prematurely. Women and children are being liaison to become liabilities while their men become burdensome.  Fate and fortunes, on the lips of demagogues are wrecked overnight. The voice of hope and unusual vices mix, to plunder. Inhumanities here and there. Propaganda then, and now. Questions on the future are still lurking behind the tales of partisans, who sweeps emotions with lies and jokes. But we still have to repudiate. This, to the journalist, I think, is worthwhile.

The current crisis of Ghana is different from all other crisis. First of all, it appears only in the form of political. In reality, it is only a part. It is the turning point of her history, a late turning point, but a real one. There is nothing new in the causes of this crisis, the crisis itself had been smelling pungent for decades. The craze to inform and to analyze the critical issues that confronts us is a manifestation of real journalism. Hence the decadence of government lies. From now on, the decadence of journalism, is the ascendancy of some marauding PRs.

When a country is going through upheavals, the spirits of the people get demoralized. Not only their spirits, but the souls of their next generation. Politics and governance are among the few plaques rotting our existence. The socio-cultural venoms, in the communities we represent seem poisonous than we think. The programs we watch and stuffs we listen on televisions and on radios. The celebrities and journalists we follow, are the true manifestations of the behavior we exhibit both on real and virtual platforms.  

Journalists and public figures cannot calculate the degree of their impacts. Neither can they regulate the variations of its negativities. However, their output and presentations, as a residue to their intellectual stance, solely depends on the wishes and demands of the people they inform. The demands and expectations, whether frivolous or eminent, has to come from the open-ends and ever researching minds of colorful screen gods and goddesses.

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To understand the realities of our social-cultural impacts and the resulting crisis, we are to first explain the conditions from which our information media between the senders and receivers were compromised.  

You don’t open a pork factory in Saudi Arabia, hoping to advertise on television and radio stations. In Moscow TV stations, nobody thinks of advertising Sushis (a Japanese food). Neither can you freely advertise canned beef on Indian television and radio platforms. What embodies the cultures of societies are what journalists learn to talk about.

In political culture, we expect the recurrence of demonization, insults, and comedies without any analytical dents. In food culture, we are now more into junk, creamy, and oily foods. In relationship culture, we expect sexually animated scenes, that incites and excites our desires and affections. We barely have a taste on deep analytical programs; programs that digest issues with facts and intellectuality. We barely read to become compelling in arguments, so least or nothing is expected from the journalists who wants to excel in academic discourse. As for entertainment, is as if we have harbored an animal farm annex; neither we nor the celebrities really know what is going on. Only sports thrive. Journalists, in such an abhorrent society find it difficult, even to become journalists.

Those who are not doing anything better don’t know how mediocre they are. Those who are doing better don’t get the encouragement to do their best. Those who aren’t doing anything at all, think they are the best. Probably, those who are about to enter may not know how to do it. This is the picturesque of our media space, and that is how our socio-political lives have been packaged. And this I think, is the heart of the crisis.

When government become burdensome, and the economy becomes too tight, with depressions and anxiety beaconing the lives of the people, it is the comedians who flourish; because they will be sending antidotes of stress and overthinking through the air waves for people to survive. When this happens, serious discussions become part of the people’s headache. In return, journalists become the enemies of the people’s conscience.

Torn between western cultures and virtual media excitations, the Ghanaian only knows what is going on, not what is to be done. What is going on is what is trending. What is to be done is what really matters; to be solved or managed. Hence, the media are compelled to follow what is trending, not what matters. Trending matters can be active for days, becoming no news at all, but for social media, it can be kept as news, to distort the original news that momentarily comes. When this happens, social media becomes the wheel to the people’s minds; driving them to the directions of hashtags, instead of newspapers. By fulfilling the wills of the people, most journalists have turned into social media punks.

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History will not catalog the people who were involve during the crisis, it is rather the deeds of the few that proved to be decisive. Popularity is, but periodic, it erupts like volcanic fury and eludes like smoke. Luxuries and body flaunt attract followers; it is intellectual substance that wins their loyalty. The social media is an adventure of virtuality, not an enterprise of reality. It doesn’t reflect the true behavior of a particular society; it is in itself a society. To merry on an online community, as a thanksgiving token from the progress of modernity is to prove that you’re highly uncultured. At this stage, only the journalists who can separate necessity of choice, from popular opinion will stay relevant.

The very few listeners/viewers who, for substantive reasons, stay close to relevant information shouldn’t be forgotten. It is their minds that will perceive the future. Very few journalists used to feed such people, now most of them have turn into political hoodlums. But it is inherent in every societal shakedown. Only because, personal ambitions are incalculable.

In this turmoil, journalists who are doing porn and sexual programs are more dangerous than those throwing political bandwagons. Politics is a public engagement; it matters only when government isn’t performing her duties. Sex is the soul of societies, the profanity of it affects the entire society even when everything is in order. Those who by program presentations, turn women into sex idols are as cancerous as those who hail corrupt officials. Those who hail corrupt officials rot the minds and the future of the people, those who present sexual programs rot the minds and the lives of the people; both are the same. Sexual excitations are more powerful than propaganda. The latter can be filtered and have its residues dumped, the former cannot. Hence, it is important for us to probe those who have turned our society into sexually-prone enterprise; unfulfilling the sexual desires of couples and lovers, yelling into their sensations that there are more scenes to practice.

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It is those journalists, who have broken our societies into pieces for politicians to pick them up.

Three categories of journalists have naturally emerged from these media uproar:

  1. Those who keep searching through relevant information, keeping their viewers and listeners updated on educative matters that best explains our status-quo.
  2. Those who stay inactivated, producing neither rubbish nor relevant information. They only keep their loyal listeners/viewers informed with what had been their issue.
  3. And those who with political, social and economic programs send the people into abyss of ignorance. They are those journalists, who rally behind partisan lies, manufacture erotic scenes and fume anger and emotions, causing mayhem, depressions and resentment at the heart of our society.

In reality, is it both the personal ambitions of the journalists, and the loosed emotions of the people that are in conflict.

The people who will pour appraisals on a journalist when he touches on a political issue today, would be the same people to troll him when being factual tomorrow. Because societies, when they exhaust their moral maxims loses focus on what is important. Here, those that delivers the information suffers.

The ears and eyes of the people are connected to their hearts more than their minds. When delivered with two different analytical issues, they will accept one and rubbish the other. When presented with two different rubbish issues, they will accept one as important and dump the other. It is because, no deliberation or analysis is done on all the information being presented to them. What they praise, is not what necessarily make sense, and what they trash is not what does not necessarily make sense. It is what appeals to their emotions; instantaneously judging journalists base on how they feel.

It is the nobility of our society that is in shambles. Journalists takes the face of it. Some have been compelled to choose mediocrity over excellence, others too have been consistent with their instincts. The bitter truth is, the quality of journalism, in every society solely depends on the minds of the people within. In our case, it is a crumbled and vindictive, sex-prone with political numbness society. Striving to get quality journalism in such society is like climbing the Everest.  

By Opoku Andrew

Email: [email protected]